Yesterday was the start of the fire brigade competition season for me. This was the first competition since I started athletics training, so it was always going to be interesting to see how I went. The weather was hot and overcast, but with only a slight breeze for most of the day.
First event was the ladder race. Because the sprint part of the race is only short, and I haven't been able to work on my starts, it was difficult to tell if there was any effect on my performance. However, due to a lack of ladder training (as our training track is under repair), the climb wasn't as smooth as normal. Following the ladder race was the hose and ladder 5s. Here was the real test, and the reason I took up athletics. After collecting my gear off the reel and starting the sprint stage, I took off. For the first couple of seconds, I had to be a bit careful, due to hose near my feet, then I could open up to top speed for a few seconds, until my assistant needed me to slow down (about 15 metres short of where I normally would). The final part, was the climb, which had a bit of a slip near the top. However, the run still finished in around 26 seconds. I estimate that the short burst at top speed took a good 1/2 second off the time it took me to get to the top. A combination of sprint and specific skills training could take another second off.
Next event was the 2 man marshall, one of the dry events. Here, I'm at a disadvantage, because I'm not as quick at the turns, and there's no long sprints. Unfortunately, a loose coupling put us out of that event. Following the marshalls was the pumper events. In the pumper and ladder 5s, I ran my usual ladder position. By now, I was getting my muscle memory back and the climb was smoother. However, a technical fault prevented the run from being completed, and we were granted a re run. In the re run, everything went well, and we got a time of just over 18 seconds, which was enough for a 5th place, and less than a second slower than our 2014 state winning time. Following the 5s was the pumper 4s. In this event, something didn't go quite right, resulting in a "miss".
The rest of the day was hose and reel events, starting with the C section 4s. There were only two C section sides, so we got to race against each other, instead of running singly. This made the event more exciting. I was running hydrant - a position I haven't run for some time. However, with our pole only able to run on the right hand side of the reel due to injury, the hydrant person has to cross over in front of the reel, after picking up the hydrant, and my speed is a huge advantage here, not only allowing me to safely cross over well in front of the reel, but also have plenty of time to be setup. The run went well, I got to the plug in plenty of time and was setup just as the coupler came to couple the hose on, allowing me to turn the water on immediately. Not only were we first to hit the disc, but the other side was given a miss, meaning either way, we had won the event.
After the 4s, the A side asked me to fill in as first assist for their hose and reel 8s. I had a good run here as well, though the guys on the opposite side of the reel to me had some sort of major hiccup. Despite these problems, we actually won the event in a surprisingly good time (29 seconds)! :)
Due to a lack of training (because of the track maintenance issue), we didn't run in the hose and reel 6s. This event can be very dangerous if not run properly, and half the team has never even run in a 6 team. Following the 6s was the champion 4s. We fielded a different team to the C 4s, and I was back in pole for this event. I had a good run, though by this stage, I was being a little cautious not to overstress my hamstring (it didn't give any trouble). Unfortunately, there was a miss somewhere.
The final event was the Y 8. We didn't have enough people to field a team, and we hadn't been able to train it either. However, another team was also short and asked if we could provide 2 extras to make up their numbers. I ran pole and third branch - pull the reel to the far end of the track, hand it over to the catcher, then put the branch onto the hose and clip onto the ladder runner. I used to run this position a few years ago, so I knew what I was doing, and only had to learn the specific way the team ran their Y8 (there's _many_ ways to run this event!). Had a good run, with everything going well. It's certainly not the first time I've filled in for another team, and I always enjoy that experience. It's good to get a feel for how others run things.
So in summary, it was a very successful day. Both our A and C teams won their respective sections, with the A side winning the grand aggregate and the C side getting 5th overall. As for myself, the hard work of the last few months is bearing fruit, with significantly faster track speed when not on the reel, helping in the ladder 5s and when running the hydrant position. The next competition is not until January 17, so my focus will switch back to athletics for the next several weeks. I plan to keep training right through the Christmas break, and there are only 2 weeks without athletics meets. The plan is to run athletics until the bulk of the fire brigade season, then focus there until the state championships in March. A fortunate coincidence is that my last week of athletics will be the Victorian Country championships in late January.